Photo of the Rip City sign in Portland, Oregon.

Image Credit: Baker County Tourism (CC BY-ND 2.0)

After being founded in 1970, the Portland Trail Blazers had never had a mascot until 2002 when they adopted "Blaze the Trail Cat". However, the team has had a special nickname for many years dating back to it's inaugural season in 1970-1971.

Many will see the term "Rip City" on the Trail Blazers' alternate jerseys and assume it's a nickname for the city of Portland. While the city has it's share of nicknames including "Rose City", "City of Roses" or "Bridgetown", "Rip City" is actually only used in reference to the basketball team.

How and when did the nickname originate? On February 18th, 1971 the Trail Blazers were playing the Los Angeles Lakers and began to rally back into the game in the 2nd quarter. After a long jump shot by the Blazers guard Jim Barnett, play-by-play announcer Bill Schonely shouted "RIP City! All right!" The scorekeeper briefly inquired about what Schonely meant by the phrase and Schonely simply said that he blurted it out randomly. The nickname stuck and has been with the team through the Bill Walton years followed by the Clyde Drexler years and now the Damian Lillard era. Although Jim Barnett only played one season with the Portland, he was also the first player to score a basket in Portland Trail Blazers history. He put together a rather stellar NBA career and currently works for the Golden State Warriors

Photo of Bill Schonely, former analyst of the Portland Trail Blazers.

Image Credit: OregonMildEP (CC BY 2.0)

Schonely, nicknamed "The Schonz", went on to serve as the Trail Blazers' play by play broadcaster for three decades including the 1977 season when the Blazers won it's lone NBA Championship. Today, Trail Blazers fans chant the phrase loudly with pride including during last season's playoff run. "WE ARE...RIP CITY!" The phrase is also in use throughout the city of Portland via a number of businesses, commercials and advertisements. 


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